Sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands. Is a dating intervention the solution?
If you're single or in an unfulfilling relationship, it might be time. If all of your relationships or burgeoning romances end in the same way, it might be time. If you feel like you're doing all the right things — putting yourself out there, flirting, being the best first date you know how to be — but still…. metaphorical crickets. No life partner. No serious boyfriend. No dates. Nada. It might be time to stage a dating intervention. For yourself.
For many of life's problems, we turn to other for help. You probably wouldn't be opposed to using a headhunter to find you a job or a personal trainer to show you how to work out most effectively. But when it comes to dating and relationships? Most of us are on our own. Sure, we have friends and family members who might serve as sounding a board for our latest problems or give us advice about what to do when the guy doesn't call.
But usually when we talk to others about our love lives, we are asking for a specific perspective on a specific circumstance — of the "I have a crush on my co-worker and don't know what to do about it" variety. A dating intervention is different. This isn’t about your latest crush or the fight you had with your boyfriend. This is about how you are approaching relationships, how you are being perceived by those you hope to attract and how to change the things that aren't working.
Here's how to get started:
1. Assemble a group of 4-6 of your trusted advisors: These are the people who know you and care about you, but will also be honest with you. Try to get a mix of people who have known you for different amounts of time and in different contexts. Try also to choose people of different genders.
2. Get your mind right: You might hear some harsh truths. Be prepared. You shouldn't ask a question you don't really want to know the honest answer to.
3. Come up with 3-5 basic questions: I suggest something along the lines of "In social settings, how do others perceive me?" or "What do you think my biggest obstacle has been to finding love?" Other good quesitons could be "What piece of advice would you give me regarding my love life?" and "What patterns do you see in my love life?"
4. Don't set a trap for your friends: Keep the questions general, not specific. For instance, "Do you secretly think I’m an idiot for dumping Kevin?" is way too specific. If you want to know that kind of answer, ask your friends directly.
5. Decide if you'd like your feedback anonymous or direct: I don't recommend a face-to-face ambush — this is your intervention, not theirs. Besides, you want them to have a week or two to think about their responses. I recommend creating a free, anonymous survey using a service like www.surveymonkey.com. Email your friends the link and they can complete the questionnaire online.
6. Set a deadline: This is important. Ask your advisers to submit their responses by a certain date and don't read them until you have received them all. If you read them piecemeal it will be too easy to focus on things that aren't important in full context. (See #8 below)
7. Make a promise to your advisers and stick to it: Promise your friends that you will not badger or harass them about their answers. And keep your promise!
8. Ignore the outliers: If one person says something none of the others do, you decide for yourself if the comment rings true for you.
9. Don’t ignore the consensus: In my experience with collecting these types of answers on behalf of my clients, there is usually a consensus that forms among the group. If 3 or more of your friends are saying the same thing, there's probably a good reason.
10. Develop an action plan: Once you have your feedback, the work is up to you. Your friends are not professional relationship coaches. Take a hard look at the feedback and see what actions you can take in response. For instance, if you discover you come across as tense or unfriendly in social settings, make a concerted effort to do deep breathing exercises before you enter a party or to relax your jaw and smile more often.
For more serious revelations, you might be able to conquer them on your own or you might seek professional help to better understand certain aspects of your behavior. You can do this! Remember to only select those you trust and do not hold their answers against them. This can be a really powerful first step toward reversing some of your more damaging relationship patterns.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below!